Questions and answers about The Attacking Ocean:
Why did you choose to write about rising sea levels?
Because of a lecture by retired Bangladeshi Major General A.N.M. Muniruzzaman at the Aspen Environment Forum discussed the frightening challenges his country faces as a result of rising sea levels. I realized that there was little general awareness of the long human interaction with changing shorelines since the Ice Age. When I looked into the literature and talked to people, I found some wonderful stories. So the book was born.
Is this a book about climate change and global warming? What is different about it from other sea level books?
This, above all, is a book about ancient societies and their dealings with rising sea levels. It looks at the past, the present, and the future, for I believe we cannot discuss any form of climate change without looking back at earlier societies and their experiences. Pease note that this is not about global warming. That controversy is long settled, nor does it look into the future with tales of Armageddon. That human actions are responsible for rising sea levels is not in question, for we live in a warming world. I just want to put the present concerns about our increasing vulnerability to the ocean in historical perspective.
How does this relate to your other climate change books?
In many ways, this is a logical extension of my earlier books, which dealt with El Niños and ancient societies, with the Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period, and with the history of water. Attacking dovetails quite closely into the water issue, for there are serious problems with contamination of ground water in places like Bangladesh, China, and even Los Angeles.
What was the greatest challenge in writing this book?
Without question the research, which involved a very complex, widely scattered academic literature, as well as interviews with dozens of experts in many fields. Turning this complex story into an interesting narrative for a wider audience was also a huge challenge. I hope that I’ve succeeded.
What book are you planning to write next?
I’m deep into research on a book about the complex relationships between humans and animals. This is quite a long way out, for, once again, the literature is very complex and the experts numerous. Besides, my cats have adopted my computer keyboard as a residence, which holds things up!